Monday, July 31, 2017

Ready to Hit the Road Again

Our first trip across country lived up to its name "Destination Unknown." We loved the trip, but it lacked structure. Sometimes this was a good thing and sometimes it was not. We left with a general direction, no particular time to get there and planned on visiting friends and family along the way. Some people knew we were coming, but not when and some saw we were close and asked if we could stop for a visit. Having the freedom to change our direction was good, allowing us to stay true to our "Destination Unknown." But the stress came from not being able to see someone because they were sick and we had to move on, or not being able to see someone because it would take us too far from our course. I had to finally realize that I could not do everything in one trip. Having the choice to go anywhere is both a curse and a blessing. We loved it because everything was new, but the lack of long-term planning was a bit unsettling.

Because I did not do any long-term planning, I did not research places to visit. Therefore, we did not do a lot of sightseeing. That was okay because we were visiting family and friends as well as making new friends. The few places we did visit makes me want to visit more places on the next trip.


When we were crossing the country, both ways, we moved every day or every other day. Being on the road is stressful, even when you go about 200 miles, arrive by 2 and stay 2 days. When we could stay a week or two in one place, we loved it. There were a lot of places that I wish we had more time to visit.


Our next trip across country will start just after Labor Day. I have just started to plan our route. Right now the plan is to go along the Northern states and sight-see along the way. I have a National Parks Passport and I want to fill it up with the stamps of the parks we visit. I am hoping that we are leaving soon enough to get to Yellowstone National Park, the Tetons, and the National Parks in Utah before they get snow. I will post on Facebook when I get to the planning stage so that our friends and families along that route can give us a shout if they want us to stop and visit.


Even though the thought of the ultimate freedom of "Destination Unknown" sounds good, I actually feel more comfortable with more structure than that. Our next trip will have more structure, because we are planning to go to Mexico for five weeks with at least one other couple. When the time comes, we will set a date which has to be kept. 


To sum it all up, I liked the freedom, but I didn't like the freedom. I liked traveling because it took us to new places. I didn't like traveling, because there is a lot of work to packing up and unpacking. I liked visiting friends, family and making new friends. I loved  visiting new places. I loved eating out at new places. I liked boondocking in the desert. This has been the most amazing trip and I am looking forward to doing it all over again.


Here is our itinerary for September. If you are close to our path, give us a shout and we will be glad to get together.



Our Trip September 2017

September 6 & 7
Diamond Point, NY 12824

September 8
Geneva, NY 14456

September 9
North East, PA 16428

September 10 & 11
Wapakoneta, OH 45895

September 12
Leesburg, IN 46538

September 13 & 14
Sublette, IL 61367

September 15 & 16
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

September 17
Round Lake, MN 56167

September 18 & 19
Rapid City, SD 57702

September 20
MT 59301

September 21 - 23
Lovell, WY

September 24 & 25
Boulder, WY 82923

September 26 & 27
Duchesne, UT 84021

September 28 – October 2
Salina, UT 84654

From Utah we will be headed into Colorado and will stay there until cold weather and the threat of snow forces us South. The rest of the winter will be spent in Arizona, California and Mexico.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Things That Went Well and Things That Did Not

The Trailer:

When we were looking at trailers, there were two things which we felt were really important: an outdoor kitchen and work space for Kay to be creative. The reasoning seemed sound because, as a seasonal, I had setup a nice outdoor kitchen with a BBQ grill, a table with my camp stove on it, my pots and pans hanging below the table and my utensils hanging from a rod at the back of the table. During the summer we lived outdoors. The reasoning for a work space for Kay also seemed sound. We did not want the dinette covered with an art project at meal time. So we bought a trailer with a bunkhouse and built a workstation in that area for Kay.

Lessons learned:

I need a bigger indoor kitchen, not an outdoor kitchen. We lived mostly inside during our recent travels because it was cold outside. Because the electricity was free and the propane was not, I cooked almost everything in the microwave, toaster oven and/or electric fry pan. Having a portable grill that mounts on the trailer and has a quick connect to the trailer's propane is a plus. The outside stove top, sink and refrigerator just were not used enough to justify the loss of space.

I overestimated how much time Kay would spend on her art projects. Yes, her art supplies filled the upper bunk but she now realizes she can downsize her supplies because she could get along without much of it. Her projects were short and easily cleaned up. Kay does not need her own work space and we can share the kitchen table.

Our next trailer will have a bigger kitchen with more cabinets and counter space. The living space will also have more room and be more comfortable.  I will also buy the extended warranty for at least the first year. Things seem to happen when you take it for a ride over bumpy roads.

Solar Panels:

There were problems with the install from the start. Perhaps I chose the wrong place to get it installed. On our first trip, the solar panels did not charge the batteries. I watched the installer trouble shoot the problem, which I found helpful. There was a wire which was not tightened properly when installed.

There was then a learning curve on how to use the system. 

When we returned, the power cord did not seem to work. I found that the installer of the solar panels and the inverter had made a poor splice on the power cord and the wiring burned up at the connection point between the two systems.

Lessons learned:

Check out the company doing the install. Get a one-year warranty in writing, including workmanship.

I learned early on not to leave the inverter on unless I needed to run an appliance. The first night out I left it on and it drained the batteries. That meant there was no heater, no refrigerator and no lights. Fortunately, the sun charged the batteries up and I did not make that mistake again. I also learned that the batteries do charge on cloudy days.

Camping Plans:

When we left, we bought two zones for the price of one in Thousand Trails. We bought the Southwest and Southeast zones because those were the areas where we were planning on spending the winter. Some of the campgrounds were nice and some were horrid. 

We also joined Harvest Hosts, a group of wineries, breweries, farms and museums which allow an RVer to dry camp overnight for free. My free overnight stop usually cost me more than if I stopped at a campground, but it was always worth it.

When we were boondocking at Mittry Lake, someone offered us 3 free nights of camping if we would listen to a sales pitch. The offer was so good that we bought a membership to Colorado River Adventures. This membership also included a Good Sam's membership and a Coast to Coast membership. Suddenly the cost of camping improved allowing more choices in more locations.

Lessons learned:

This is still a work in progress. We are considering joining Boondockers Welcome to open up even more free camping across the country.

Harvest Hosts was a good investment and we bought a lifetime membership. We have stayed at so many nice places. When we are moving across the country, this is a much better option for a place to stay than a Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or a truck stop.

Colorado River Adventures was our best investment. CRA has 10 resorts and members are guaranteed a place to stay. We are allowed two free weeks in and then must spend one week out of the system or pay a fee to stay in on an out week. We can sell the membership for what we paid for it, and in essence get our money back, or we can pass it on to a child who can pass it on to their child. Next winter we are planning to stay for 5 weeks at their RV Resort in Mexico. We love the desert Southwest.

Boondocking:

There are a lot of resources on-line. My favorite is http://www.ultimatecampgrounds.com/. I also use this in conjunction with Google Maps and use the satellite view to look at access to the area.

Lessons learned:

I found that it was better to scout out the area when we were not towing the trailer. When we camped on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land near Organ Pipe National Park, I did not check it out first and the area had too many trees and bushes and I scratched up the trailer. When we were in Carlsbad, we dropped our trailer at a Harvest Hosts site and scouted out the area. We found a great place, but the site I really wanted on a lake had a non-maintained road that we could not take the trailer through. 

Solar with an inverter allowed me to do some cooking in the microwave or toaster oven, without getting dishes and pots dirty. We used paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic or paper cups to help conserve water. Conserving water was essential when boondocking. 

Other Stuff:

RVillage is a great useful site which all RVers should belong to because, when used properly, it helps keep people connected. It has helped us connect with other RVers and to then stay connected. It is a free site, but I bought the lifetime Gold membership because I believe in supporting a site as good as this one. They have a terrific app for your smart-phone.

After hooking up, I always have Kay check everything. A second set of eyes could help avert disaster. Maybe I should make a checklist. Occasionally, we both miss something. Once, I got to the dump station and noticed that I had forgotten to lower the antenna. No harm done, I lowered it and then left the campground. The worst thing is being interrupted when packing up because it breaks the routine allowing something to be overlooked.

No map, no pictures. I just wanted to share the challenges of being a full-timer on the road. The next blog will cover what we liked, what we did not like and what we will change or keep the same on the next trip.

Thanks for stopping by. Kay loves it when you leave a comment.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Home Sweet Home

Hooray! We are home. But first, the rest of the story.

After leaving Delaware, we spent a week at Gettysburg Battlefield Resort in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It rained six out of the seven days we were there. We did do the driving tour of the battlefield on the non-rainy day, but it was still cloudy and dreary. Here are a few pictures.

 The Confederate side of the battlefield

 Confederate artillery position

 The Eisenhower Farm NHS

 Looking across the battlefield towards the Union position of Little Round Top and Big Round Top

 Can you imagine charging across a field towards that?

 Monument to the Union Signal Corps on Big Round Top

 The only sign I saw about Massachusetts troops in the battle

There were a lot of monuments and statues throughout the battlefield

The size of the battlefield is impressive. In this one three-day battle over 51,000 Americans lost their lives. Robert E. Lee, the commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, once said, "It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it."

After leaving Gettysburg, we started our rapid dash for home. Our first stop was Wright's Farm. We love the Harvest Hosts program which allows us to stay free on their property over night. It sure beats staying at a truck stop or a Walmart. Here are some pictures of where we stayed on Wright's Farm in Gardiner, New York.

 Our trailer beside the cherry orchard

 A cherry tree in bloom

Looking at our trailer from the apple orchard

The view of the cherry orchard out the door of the trailer

Despite the rain, this was a pleasant, quiet place to dry camp for the night.

From there we went to Bishop's Farm Market and Winery in Guilford, Connecticut. They had a most interesting bubbly raspberry wine. Did I mention how much I like stopping at wineries?

Then it was off to North Conway, New Hampshire, where we visited with our friends Donna and Gregg Goldberg.


That was our last stop. Wow, what a trip. Yippee, we are home. Oh no! We had no electricity when I plugged in the power!


Many of you may not know that I am an electrician by trade. The problem was easy to locate and easy to make a temporary repair. We now have electricity, but I need to fix it before the next time we camp off the grid. The person who installed the solar system used a poor choice of a wire-nut to connect stranded and solid wires. When I fix the problem, you know it will be done right.  

Now the map.  The loop is closed!


Thanks for dropping by. Leave us a comment so that we know you visited. Kay loves it when you do.

Next blog or two will be lessons learned and highlights of what we loved as well as things we should change and things that went just right. It was a terrific seven months!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Traveling up the East Coast

In eleven days we will arrive "home" at Tuxbury Pond RV Resort in South Hampton, NH.

After leaving Georgia, we went to South Carolina. We continued to loosely follow the 2,2,2 rule: 200 miles a day, arrive by 2, stay 2 days. We could only get a one-day stay at the campground in Myrtle Beach, SC. Because we arrived by 2:00, we had plenty of time to meet Renee Zarate, an artist friend of Kay's. 

Kay and Renee Zarate

We continued our journey North into North Carolina with one of our stops being Camp Hatteras RV Resort in the Outer Banks. What a lovely area. If I plan a little further ahead, maybe I could get more than a two-day stay. It was a terrific campground and I would have loved to have had more time to explore the area.


Cape Hatteras Light

Interesting history of the ever-changing shoreline.

Checking my photos while waiting for our food at the Froggy Dog.

Continuing northward, we entered Virginia and stayed at a campground in Virginia Beach. While we were in Virginia, we met another artist friend of Kay's, Carol Porter in Newport News. This trip has allowed both Kay and me connect with friends that we have only met online.

Kay and Carol Porter


Today, we are in a lovely RV Resort in Delaware. Tomorrow, we are headed to Gettysburg for a week, followed by a rapid dash home.

Now the maps:

Our trip to date

A door inside our trailer showing the states where we have camped.

Thanks for stopping by. Leave us a comment so that we know you were here.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

There is Always Something that Needs to be Fixed

Owning an RV is like owning a sticks and brick home because there is always something that needs to be fixed. We moved two days ago and I checked the tires and added a little bit of air to two of them. I usually check the air pressure and lug nuts on the trailer before I tow it. Today, I forgot to do that, but when we stopped for lunch, I did a walk around the trailer. It was then that I noticed that three of my tires had developed small cracks in the sidewalls. It is Sunday, and no tire stores are open. I was still 88 miles from my destination. I decided to push on. I drove at a slower speed and stayed in the right lane and passed no one. We made it without blowing a tire. Monday, I will call around and hopefully find some tires in stock. We are stuck here until I can replace all four tires.



How I wish that was the only problem. Last night, I was unable to lock the door with the deadbolt. Today, because it was on my "honey do" list, I looked at the problem. The pin on the piano hinge was sliding out, so I tapped it back into place. It did not fix the problem. The tolerance on the strike plate was such that the small amount of sag that occurred caused the dead bolt to hit the strike plate. When I get home, I will find a friend with a vice so that I can modify the strike plate so that it accepts the deadbolt. For now, the strike plate is removed and the deadbolt works fine.

I have lots of things to take care of when we get home. The trailer needs to be washed and waxed. The generator needs to be run and checked. The slide-outs need to be lubricated again, as well as the rubber gaskets on the slide-outs. One scissor-jack needs to be replaced and the others lubricated again.

When we are constantly moving, routine maintenance is a problem. Fortunately, we stay in one location long enough to work on things when we are in New England or the desert Southwest. We are both looking forward to arriving home in fewer than three weeks--19 days, but who's counting.



Thanks for stopping by. Leave us a comment so that we know you were here.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Adventure Continues

We loved Texas. Maybe next year we can spend more time in Texas. Now it is time to head East and cross the Gulf states before the severe weather catches us. Our first stop after leaving Texas was Passport to Leisure RV Park in Robert, LA. We crossed the longest bridge in North America, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, 23.8 miles long. Louisiana is one big swamp. So rather than pictures of a swamp, here are some pictures of what I fixed for lunch one day. 


 Tuna, Miracle Whip, green pepper and lightly toasted bread

 Add sliced tomato

 Add shredded cheddar cheese

Melt the cheese in the toaster oven

Tuna melt

Next stop, Wolf River RV Resort in Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Nice campsite

Jake loves a walk. He wants me to keep up. 

 Jake and I walked down to the beach at the river.


 Some of the blackberries were ripe and they were GOOD.

We continued East into Alabama and stayed at Wilderness RV Resort in Robertsdale, Alabama. A nice place, but, Florida, here we come! We stayed at Bee's RV Resort in Clermont, Florida. It was time to slow down and visit with friends.


Edie and Bill Constantine, both former co-workers at MGH 

Tammy and David Birkhead, artist friend of Kay

Kay has been an online friend of Tammy's for 8 years. It was nice for them to finally meet face to face. We met for lunch at Ford's Garage in Estero, FL, and I had to take a picture in the Men's Room.


Interesting sinks

Next, we headed to Vero Beach to visit with our friends Tom and Betty Smith.

Tom and Betty Smith

We have turned North and are starting up the coast toward New England. On April 5, 2017, we were at Southern Trails RV Resort. We spent the afternoon under a tornado warning. A tornado went by fewer than 15 miles South of our location. We watched the weather very closely.

To all of our friends in New England, we will see you soon. Less than a month before we return to Tuxbury Pond RV Resort, South Hampton, New Hampshire.

Our trip

Thanks for stopping by. Leave us a comment so that we will know you were here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Carlsbad Caverns

We left Arizona and headed into New Mexico, as we head East on our return trip. We spent our time boondocking in the desert. The campsite, on BLM land, had a covered picnic table and a trash barrel. It was totally free. We just had to share the site with the open range longhorn cows and their calves. I was hoping to be able to stay at Avalon Reservoir, and it would have been a great place to stay, if I had a 4-wheel-drive truck camper. The road in was horrible. That is why I try to scout out the area before I pull the trailer in. Here are the pictures from our campsite.








We took a day to settle in and then went to Carlsbad Caverns. Here are some pictures from the largest known cavern in North America.


























































I think I over did the pictures of the caverns and they do not begin to show the beauty and the expanse of the place. My phone battery went dead from taking too many pictures in the two hours it took us to walk through the cavern. 

We have left New Mexico and we are now in Texas. Our first stop was Medina Lake RV Park, a Thousand Trails campground.  We loved it there. The sites had cedars growing between the sites with nothing behind us but cedars. Peaceful and quiet.  We loved this campground. 

Dense woods behind campsites.

While I was hooking up the trailer, Kay took this picture through the windshield.

There were 20 to 30 deer in this group. What a wonderful place to camp. 

From there, we went to The Preserve of Texas, a Coast to Coast park in Cleveland, Texas. This RV Park is one of the best-maintained parks that I have ever seen in my 40 years of camping. The primary focus is to sell you a lot for a trailer, park model or a real home. Another great place to camp in Texas. 


The Preserve of Texas, site CB-17. 

Yes, they have alligators in Texas. 

The truck sure is dirty. I took it to a car wash the next day and had the tires rotated as well as an oil change at the GMC dealership. 

Jake has that quizzical look. I think he wants to know what that stuff is hanging from the branches of the trees.

I went to the Post Office in Cleveland, Texas, and saw this incredible flowering bush.  

 At the Post Office in Cleveland, Texas.

 At the Post Office in Cleveland, Texas. The horizon is level; the flagpole is not plumb.

 Jake is alert and on 'gator patrol.

Jake getting bored of  'gator patrol.

Thanks for stopping by. Next, we head to Louisiana and then across the rest of the Gulf states and into Florida.